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Nanaimo hockey player suspended for trio of hits

Nov 07 2012

A 14-year-old Nanaimo bantam hockey player has been formally suspended in the wake of an RCMP investigation into an incident that left a Saanich player with a ruptured spleen.

After the RCMP concluded its investigation on Nov. 1, the Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association suspended the player for seven games for a series of body checks that injured three athletes.

Since the Nanaimo player had already been suspended, pending the results of the league investigation, the suspension has ended.

In addition to the hit on a Saanich player that drew police attention, the Nanaimo player had recently been involved in plays that caused concussions to two other athletes.

VIAHA president Jim Humphrey said he hoped the disciplinary action would send a message to the league's players.

"I'm hoping that all within minor hockey on the Island learn that respect is part of the game," he said. "Just because you're big doesn't mean you've got the advantage or right to big body-checks."

The Sept. 23 injury provided fuel for those calling for a change to rules that allow players as young as 11 to bodycheck in competitive hockey.

Coaches in VIAHA are trained to introduce hitting using a seven-step process. Players are then taught how to bodycheck.

"The goal is to take the puck away from the opposition, not take the opposition out of the game," said Humphrey, who would like to see the hitting age increased to 13.

Others, including former Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association president Chuck Blanaru, have called for the minimum age to be raised to 15.

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